Linux News says Microsoft Engaged in Persecution and Discrimination

Posted by tadelste on Nov 17, 2005 7:36 AM EDT
Lxer Day Desk; By Tom Adelstein
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LXer Day Desk: 11-17-2005

Many American conservatives recoil when people bring up the issue of persecution. They call it un-American. We quote the US Constitution when it serves our interests. But when someone is in the minority, reminding the majority of our rights under the constitution means encountering verbal abuse.

So as unpopular as the following argument may seem, let me remind you that a democracy that guarantees citizens certain rights and privileges forms the foundation of our system of government. Vocal incriminations will not change that.

Now, let's take a closer look at some core issues of ethics.

One definition of persecution is the mistreatment of an individual or group by another group. Historically, the most recognized forms deal with religion and race. A third and less obvious one lies in the area commonly referred to as discrimination. For example discrimination in the work place because of age results in persecution since denial of work in a capitalistic society impoverishes people. Poverty lowers your ability to provide for basic human needs.

If we open up the discrimination scenario then it has to do with an unfair difference in treatment of others. Denial of equal access to resources to people on the basis of their group membership results in persecution. Discrimination doesn't end in strictly social areas, it can and does ultimately involve commercial issues.

Microsoft uses techniques of social discrimination to persecute users of Linux. They deny access to technology through coercion. As a monopoly, Microsoft restrains trade and they have targeted Linux users who are clearly a minority.

If you understand some of the core issues of ethics, then you can equate denial to technological resources such as DVD encryption as a discriminatory action in a commercial content by a monopoly. And while Congress contemplates spending eight billion dollars on disadvantaged people who cannot afford to convert to HDTV, such a policy is an attempt to counter commercial discrimination. I call that a precedent.

Who really knows the cause of persecution? In my opinion it usually has to do with access to resources. In the case of Microsoft, consider their unequal treatment of Linux users as persecution. How many "Get the Facts" campaigns do they run against Apple? What about OpenSolaris and FreeBSD - shouldn't we see a "Get the Facts" campaign against people who use those platforms?

Jonathan Schwartz of Sun Microsystems has often referred to Linux as a social movement. In this case, the social movement exists because the company Jonathan represents prevented people from having access to UNIX by pricing the technology out of the range of aspiring technologists.

Microsoft fears Linux because they believe it can be successful enough to disrupt the status quo. So, they want to eliminate Linux. Microsoft's actions are an over-reaction to a group of people who pose no danger to Microsoft's existence.

Where Does the Hatred of Microsoft Originate?

Any persecutory movement begins when a dominant or majority doesn't see any difference among members of an opposing group whether real or imagined. For example, we're Linux users. I'm not Tom and you aren't Carla, we're Linux users. The persecution and discrimination will radicalize the smaller group, resulting in kickback discrimination.

Suddenly, Microsoft users become a "they" or a "them". To date, we haven't seen any violence against Microsoft. However, I would not find it surprising if enough people become alienated or their livelihoods threatened further if we don't see something like eco-terrorism against Bill's company. I'm not suggesting it but it wouldn't surprise me.

The US Government's Role

I think the government has treated Microsoft like a bully in a school yard. The old "boys will be boys" mentality fails to stop bullies. Our government has acted like the principal who lets a bully run the school and gives ten hard licks with a paddle to the kid who walks on the wrong side of the hall.

The Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits any contract, trust, or conspiracy in restraint of interstate or foreign trade. It also provides that no person shall monopolize, attempt to monopolize or conspire with another to monopolize interstate or foreign trade or commerce.

The Clayton Act regulates general practices that potentially may be detrimental to fair competition. Practices regulated by the Clayton Act include price discrimination, exclusive dealing contracts, tying agreements, or requirement contracts, mergers and acquisitions; and interlocking directorates. Does any of that sound familiar with regard to Microsoft?

What's Our Recourse

Publicity will generally raise public awareness. For example, several anti-defamation organizations exist around the world. Their purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment for any citizen and end unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any body of citizens. Jewish citizens started the first Anti-Defamation League. But other groups have used the title and the tactics.

For several years, individuals have resorted to various courses of action to combat Microsoft's persecution of their technology and platforms. I believe that raising the awareness of Microsoft's tactics against Linux users might work effectively.

I think that making the public aware of Microsoft's "Get the Facts" campaign is a good place to start. Secondly, showing how Microsoft has infiltrated government would also help because Americans have a distinct repulsion of large corporations influencing government.

Let's face it, this is a David and Goliath story. So far, having the best technology has not worked very well. We're all a bunch of dorks. That's a social slur if one ever existed.

So, what's your take?

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Commercialize, Let the people know! bryhawks 1 2,783 Nov 21, 2005 8:14 PM
Dorks? I thought we were geeks! dcparris 4 2,691 Nov 18, 2005 8:27 AM
Microsoft Advertising on LXer with Google Ads tadelste 8 2,893 Nov 17, 2005 4:04 PM
Finally! Tsela 2 2,900 Nov 17, 2005 2:06 PM
breaking lines already formed jimf 3 2,925 Nov 17, 2005 11:16 AM

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